Category Archives: parenting

Turns out I’m Cis-Demisexual… Or Pronouns are the New Metric System

Bil Lepp Copyright 2017
My son, like any good sixteen year-old, is more socially relevant than I. We got to talking about gender identity and sexuality the other day, partly because we were driving through Omaha and I saw a sign that read, “Exit here for L-Q streets.” I says to my son, “Know what streets are in between L & Q? B, G and T.”

 

He laughed, but not entirely.

 

If I had to describe my dad via just one thing he said, I would go with: “It’s not true that a cat always lands on its feet. The cat only lands on its feet the first eleven times. And you’ll never see that cat again.”

 

I come from a long line of men who firmly believe, “If it ain’t broke, keep trying.”
And I mean that in the most positive way possible. In the late the 30’s my Grosspapa, after fighting the Red Army and making his way to America, was looking for work. He drove by the employee parking lot at Goodyear. He saw all the cars in the parking lot and thought, “If they can hire that many people, they can hire one more.”

 

The system may not have been constructed with us in mind, but we can always find a way in.

 

The only real argument my dad and I ever had was my hair. I didn’t smoke, or do drugs, and, unlike my brothers, I got grades. Not necessarily good ones, but I did get grades. So my hair just couldn’t be turned into that big of a deal. I kept it long. Maybe just to rankle him. And it worked. But one thing I swore was that I would never comment negatively on my kid’s hair.

 

My son’s hair is ridiculous. But I’ve never said anything about it.
Still and all, my son has informed me that I have a skewed ideal of masculinity.
No doubt. When I was a teenager my idol was David Bowie. How could my ideas about masculinity not be skewed?

 

So, I says to my son, “Know what streets are in between L & Q? B, G and T.”
That started the discussion. I come from maybe the last generation where it wasn’t uncommon to describe Uncle Charlie as a “confirmed bachelor,” or explain that Aunt Tonya and her friend Sonja live together to save rent. I’m a pretty liberal guy, I also come from the generation that nearly revolted when school boards tried to make us learn the metric system. Who cares if 5280 feet is a weird distance? It’s the way things are and that’s that.

 

My son says, “There’s not just male and female, and your gender has nothing to do with your sexuality.”

 

Again, I try and keep an open mind, but 128 ounces makes more sense to me than 1000 cubic centimeters.

 

He says: “First you have to understand the pronouns.”

 

“I gotta learn new pronouns?”

 

“Yep. You can keep He and She, but you need to adopt Ze and Hir (pronounced Here) for gender neutral people. And Mx. (pronounced Mix) Instead of Mr., Ms. or Mrs.”

 

“Really? Like, ‘This is Mx. Johnson’s car. It’s hir car.’”

 

“Yep.”

 

1000 meters in a kilometer…

 

“See,” my son explains, “you think in terms of binary genders. Male and female, but that excludes nonbinary genders and makes you  cisnormative.”

 

“Wait, I’m a what?”

 

“Cisnormative. See, you’re cisgender.”

 

“I am?”

 

“Yeah, your gender and biological parts assigned at birth align.”

 

“Like I’m an Aries with a moon in Jupiter?”

 

Sigh

 

So I say, “You mean I was born male and I have boy parts? Is that bad?”

 

“Bad is word you need to disassociate with this conversation,” counsels my sixteen year old. “So you’re cis, and cisnormative people think there are only two genders.” He continues, “There are people who are Agender, Androgynous, Androphilic, Aromantic, Asexual…”

 

“Okay, hold up. I know androgynous, what’s the others?”

 

“Agender has little connection to traditional genders at all.
“Androphilics are attracted to males or masculinity.
“Aromantics have little or no romantic interest in others.
“Asexuals have little physical interest in others.
“Got it? Cause that’s just the A’s.”

 

….Twelve inches in a foot, three feet in a yard.

 

“Then there’s Bigender, Bicurious, Bisexual and Butch.”

 

“Hey, we used to say Butch. Can I say Butch?”

 

“You probably shouldn’t.”

 

“Then there’s Cisgender…”

 

“That’s me!”

 

“Demigender, Demiromantic, and Demisexuals…”

 

“Those sound ominous.”

 

“Not at all. Demigender people are basically nonbinary but might lean a little toward one gender or the other.
“Demiromatics don’t experience romance until they are physically involved with someone and
“Demisexuals don’t experience physical attraction until a strong emotional bond is formed.”

 

“Wait! I think that’s me, too! I’m a cis-demisexual. Sounds like a Star Wars character.”

 

“Feminine-of-center and Masculine-of-center are folks who present, understand themselves, and/or relate to others in a more feminine or masculine way, but don’t necessarily identify as women or men.
“Which is not to be confused with Feminine-presenting or Masculine-presenting which is someone who expresses gender in a more feminine or masculine way.”

 

“Oh, no,” I say, “that’s not confusing at all.”

 

A liter used to be described as a kilogram of water under standard conditions.

 

“Fluidity describes a gender identity that shifts over time.
“FtM and MtF is for transgenders going from male to female or female to male.
“Gender Non-Conforming, Gender Normative, Gender Straight and Gender Variant should be pretty self-explanatory,” says my son.

 

They should?

 

“Then we get to the alphabet soup. LGBT, LGBTQ, GSM and DSG. LGBTQ stands for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer.”

 

I want to ask why we need the Q after the LGBT, but I’m afraid of sounding cisnormative.

 

And then my son says, “Sometimes the Q stands for Questioning instead of Queer. If you see a plus sign after the Q, that means And Everybody Else. GSM is Gender and Sexual Minorities and DSG is for Diverse Sexualities and Genders. And sometimes you hear somebody say QUILTBAG.”

 

I have heard people say quiltbag, but it was generally little old ladies who were referring to a bag in which to carry a quilt. I hold my tongue. Then I wonder if there’s a name for people who like to hold tongues.

 

“QUILTBAG stands for Queer/Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian Trans*, Bisexual, Asexual/Allied, and Gay/Genderqueer.”

 

“Seriously?” I say.

 

“Yep.”

 

“Is that it?”

 

“Tip of the iceberg.”

 

I’m a dad in the 21st century raised by men born in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Here’s what I know. If you see a parking lot full of cars you can think, “There’s no room for me,” or you can think, “There’s easily room for one more.” And, as a dad, you always have the option of deciding that you are right no matter what. And you can prove it. You can drag that cat up onto the roof and chuck it off until you do irreparable damage, but you’ll likely never see that cat again.

 

Sometimes you just need to accept that the centimeters have always been right there, across from the inches on your ruler.

 

Note: This is a composite of several conversations, not an actual start to finish conversation

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Put a Dishwasher in the Living Room & a Dumpster on Everest

Copyright Bil Lepp

In our house the dishwasher and the kitchen sink are in the same room.  They are located right beside each other.  This is a colossal design flaw.

We don’t need two places to store dirty dishes in the kitchen.  Scholars argue that the sink and dishwasher are situated in close proximity so the dirty dishes can be rinsed and then placed in the dishwasher.  Evidently those scholars do not have children.  My children believe that trudging all the way from the table, burdened by as much as a single bowl and spoon, is enough toil for one day.  They think that the magnanimous act of putting the dirty dish in the sink is a great gift to humanity. To then put the dish into the dishwasher would be flaunting their selflessness in a shameful manner.

Please note that one has to pass the dishwasher to get to the sink.

Furthermore, there are hardly any dirty dishes in the kitchen.  The dirty dishes migrate to the living room.  This is a factor of climate change.  I don’t mean to suggest that migrating dishes are a factor of climate change; I mean eating food in the living room is a factor in climate change.  The kids leave dirty dishes in the living room rather than hiking them back to the kitchen.  The food rots and produces methane, which stinks, so we have to open the window.  Then it gets hot, so we have to run the AC.

I have read that Mt. Everest is becoming a huge garbage heap because climbers jettison useless gear on the mountain rather than hiking it down to the dumpsters by the bathrooms in the parking lot.   Our living room is very much like Mt. Everest.  It can be hard to breath up there and it is littered with chip bags, candy wrappers, and dirty dishes.

The dishwasher should be in the living room.

And it wouldn’t hurt to put a dumpster two-thirds of the way up Everest.

If the dishwasher were in the living room I would never have to say, “Is it too much trouble for you to carry your dirty dishes from the living room to the kitchen?”  Instead, I could say, “Don’t leave your dirty dishes on the coffee table, Sir Edmund Hillary! There is a dishwasher under the TV!”

Actually, my mama brought me up better than that.  If Sir Edmund where a guest in my house I would not ask him to carry his dishes to the dishwasher.  I would do that for him, but you get my point.  Come to think of it, unless it was tea or something, I don’t even think I would feed Sir Edmund in the living room.  I ain’t Emily Post but I’m pretty sure that you are supposed to feed Knights of the Realm in the dining room.  Unless it is someone like Sir Mick Jagger.  I’d feed Sir Mick in the living room, but Jagger doesn’t fit my Everest reference so there’s no sense putting him metaphorically in my living room.

There are some drawbacks to installing a dishwasher in the living room.  Eventually the dishwasher in the living room would get full- provided someone actually put the dirty dishes into it- and then someone would run it, and then it would be full of clean dishes desperately needed in the kitchen and no one would take them down to the kitchen and I would be faced with a whole new frustration.

Maybe I could just put the TV in the kitchen.  That would limit all my dirty-dishes oriented frustrations to one room.  I believe it is very Zen to limit your aggression to a single room.  Spreading your frustrations across several rooms ruffles curtains and stirs up dust.

My understanding is that when you get to the top of Everest, that’s it.  There’s nowhere else to go.  And so it is with this little essay.